Local sixth-graders win national science contest

VERO BEACH — “Marine Bustologists” Caitlyn Taylor and Mason Wonka won the Detective Science division of the Kids’ Science Challenge for their plan to determine if area coral reefs are being killed off by sand and silt from dredging operations, it was announced Thursday.The Storm Grove Middle School sixth-graders submitted a plan to, according to the kidssciencechallenge.com Web site, determine who “is killing the coral reefs in Florida.” To help resolve the question the budding scientists will collect sediment from around current projects and compare them to past dredging operations to see if they can determine any patterns and practices employed by dredging companies from site to site.

After the sediment is collected, with the aid of the Smithsonian Marine Station, Taylor and Wonka will work with Earth Science Professor Don Siegel and a team of environmental scientists and forensic investigators at Syracuse University to complete their studies.In all the contest, sponsored by National Science Foundation, received more than 1,600 entries in three different divisions: Detective Science, Bio-Designs and Imagining Sports on Mars.

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